Australian GP: Max Verstappen shatters Ferrari’s dreams with blistering pole position

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen puts in the laps in Melbourne

Max Verstappen grabbed pole position for the Australian GP

Averaging over 250kph, Max Verstappen continued his pole position domination as he beat Carlos Sainz to P1 during Saturday’s qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo were the big losers with the Briton out in Q2 where he finished in 11th place while Ricciardo lost a lap time for exceeding track limits to finish a lowly P18.

Daniel Ricciardo is the big loser in Q1

Led by Alex Albon in Logan Sargeant’s chassis, a queue of drivers sat at the end of the pit lane for close on three minutes waiting for the green light for qualifying. Running wide on the way into Turn 9, Albon’s first lap time was deleted.

With the issue from FP3 warming up the tyres still in play, Max Verstappen went quickest but only by four-tenths on the Haas of Kevin Magnussen before he lost out to the Ferraris with Charles Leclerc ahead of Carlos Sainz. Verstappen upped his pace on his second flying lap but remained third behind the Ferraris.

Meanwhile, his team-mate Sergio Perez was involved in an alleged impeding incident with Nico Hulkenberg, Pierre Gasly went limping back to the pits as his A524 suffered a rear-left puncture when he brushed the wall, and Fernando Alonso set the pace. Gasly was also noted for crossing the white line at the pit exit.

Sainz regained the lead to top Q1 ahead of Perez and Verstappen, the trio separated by 0.088s! Out went Nico Hulkenberg, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, who lost his P10 lap time for exceeding track limits, and Zhou Guanyu. recommends

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Lewis Hamilton counts himself amongst Q2 casualties

Q2 marked round two of the Ferrari versus Red Bull tussle with Verstappen up into P1 on fresh tyres, and with a fresh power unit in his RB20. He was three-tenths up on Sainz who was on used tyres, as too was Leclerc. Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris got involved in the battle, up in second and fifth places after their opening run in the session.

Bolting on a new set of C5s for a second run, Sainz hit the front with a 1:16.1 to sit a tenth up on Leclerc with Verstappen third.

Hamilton moved up to ninth but was under threat with first Yuki Tsunoda and then Lance Stroll improving. The seven-time World Champion dropped out in 11th place along with Albon, Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon.

Max Verstappen on pole position for the Australian GP

Sainz, silencing any questions about his fitness, went purple, purple and purple to set the time to beat, a 1:16.331. Leclerc fell short of the mark but then came Verstappen, fastest in the first and third seconds to pip Sainz by 0.283s. Perez slotted into fourth ahead of the McLaren team-mates.

Alonso was down in ninth after a massive moment at Turn 6 with the Aston Martin driver fortunate to avoid a big crash.

There was, however, another run to come…

Verstappen, Sainz, Perez and Leclerc traded blows and purple sector times as Ferrari took the battle to Red Bull. Verstappen was the first across the line with a 1:15.915, Perez went second, then Sainz took that from him, and Leclerc pitted.

Verstappen claimed pole position by 0.270s ahead of Sainz, Perez and Norris on the second row ahead of Leclerc, Piastri, Russell, Tsunoda, Stroll and Alonso.

Australian Grand Prix 2024: Qualifying classification

1 Max VERSTAPPEN 1:15.915
2 Carlos SAINZ +0.270
3 Sergio PEREZ +0.359
4 Lando NORRIS +0.400
5 Charles LECLERC +0.520
6 Oscar PIASTRI +0.657
7 George RUSSELL +0.809
8 Yuki TSUNODA +0.873
9 Lance STROLL +1.157
10 Fernando ALONSO +1.637
11 Lewis HAMILTON 1:16.960
12 Alexander ALBON 1:17.167
13 Valtteri BOTTAS 1:17.340
14 Kevin MAGNUSSEN 1:17.427
15 Esteban OCON 1:17.697
16 Nico HULKENBERG 1:17.976
17 Pierre GASLY 1:17.982
18 Daniel RICCIARDO 1:18.085
19 Guanyu ZHOU 1:18.435

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